Love, Fattily

This is a bit late for Valentine’s Day, which is a pity because it is one of the few “Hallmark Holidays” that we celebrate, largely because it is also the anniversary of Fat Fella and my first proper “date”, some 29 years ago now.

I often think how lucky I am to have found Fat Fella. Back in the day, when we met, he was a rather Fit Fella, and I was a considerably leaner person than I am today. Even so, I never felt that what we felt about one another was based on how we looked. Sure, we were attracted to one another, and we still (very kindly) tell one another how gorgeous the other one is (looking at the pair of us, you might struggle to believe this, but fortunately beauty is in the eye of the beholder, etc, etc). But he has never made me feel as if I had to look good in order for him to carry on loving me.

I have a friend whose experience was quite different. She developed a crush on a chap who was quite a bit older than she was. She was a vibrant, bouncy attractive woman with very generous curves. He was skinny, pale, had a “difficult” personality and was not attractive in appearance or manner. He also made it clear that he was not attracted to my friend as he did not find “big” women appealing.

Now, what would you do in this situation? Move on and find someone as full of life and joy (and dinner) as you? Or would persist in your unrequited affections and actually go on a diet to get thin so that he would “like” you? That’s crazy, surely? Yet that is exactly what she did. Eventually he “deigned” to get together with her when she fitted his expectations of what a woman should look like.

She, of course, duly got pregnant and he insisted that they marry before the baby was born (as I mentioned, he is a much older man, and is also socially very conservative). Her wedding pictures (none of her friends were invited to attend the tiny, rushed civil service) show her big and uncomfortable at 8 months pregnant. When she got her baby home, we went to visit. What a skinny little thing the baby was. Do you know why? He was starving because she had gone on a crash diet while breast feeding. Fortunately, sense prevailed and she started eating properly and he grew bonny and well. And she was also bonny and well and fairly chubby. It seemed that her husband still found her attractive enough to impregnate her again, but after the birth of her second child her weight really ballooned.

Her marriage did not appear to be a happy one. Her husband would humiliate her in public by making fat jokes at her expense. If you offered her a slice of cake, he would jump in and say she couldn’t have it. She took to secret eating. And she got bigger and bigger. Then she discovered one of those really severe calorie restricted meal replacement diets. She excelled at it and lost a huge amount of weight. The husband was delighted. Then she confided in me that she was throwing up after binge eating. In high school she had suffered from anorexia and bulimia. I begged her to think carefully about what she was doing to herself. Fortunately, she had enough sense to recognise the danger she was in, and she came off the diet. It didn’t take very long for the weight to pile back on.

Today, many years later, she is still married to her skinny disapproving husband. They live completely separate lives because he fears that she will infect him with corona virus (she works in a hospital). I haven’t seen her for many months and when I next do, I could not tell you if she will be enormously fat or painfully thin. I do know that her teenage daughter seems to be following in her mother’s footsteps and after being a fairly rounded youngster is now receiving treatment for anorexia.

It is astonishing how things carry on from generation to generation. I always believed that my friend became anorexic because while still quite a young child (10 years old) her parents sent to Weight Watchers. I guess she was a big child, but you have to wonder why her parents were so concerned about it at such an early age? What had her mother been like as a teenager? She was a big woman by the time I knew her, but always very concerned about how heavy people were. Is there a genetic predisposition to this kind of bother with weight and eating? Or is it all about societal pressures and expectations?

My children are adopted, so I can discount any genetic factor with them, and I must admit that neither of them seem to have serious issues around food. Captain Shoelace is indeed, very thin, but also strong and fit. Captain Jellybean got really tubby a few years back, then gently shrunk back to a “normal” size once she got through puberty. It may be that my somewhat unhealthy relationship with food will emerge in them eventually – I couldn’t say. But I am doing my damndest not to let food become a big issue in our house.

As for Fat Fella and me, our chubby days are far from over, but I believe we are on the right track. He has completely given up drinking alcohol (he plans to stick to this for 12 months), which is most impressive, and I am continuing with my steady exercise and slight calorie reduction regime. The past couple of months contained Christmas, both of our birthdays and a bereavement. All of which are usually terrible triggers for excess. I think I have managed to contain it, though, and my weight is holding steady. I have lost 15kg (33 lbs) in 5 months, which is not too bad really.

12: State of Play

There are only two people who know I write this blog. Fat Fella, obviously, and one of my sisters. I’ll call her Slim Sister to differentiate her from the sister I mentioned in a previous blog – that one is Skinny Sister, the one whose high cholesterol level produces a shameful frisson of schadenfreude in my fat heart.

Slim Sister may be slender, but she has to work just hard enough at staying slim to be able to understand and relate to the trials and tribulations of lard arses such as myself. She is also probably my biggest cheerleader, and I know is very keen that I should do well on this particular journey. And not for any other reason than that I should be happy and well and satisfied with how my body looks and feels. She’s a good egg, is Slim Sister.

She also has opinions on what I write, and one that she expressed recently is that it is perhaps a mistake not to include a weekly weight report. She felt that it was a good “hook” to draw in readers, along the lines of Bridget Jones’s Diary etc.

I am sure she is right, but I fear that a weekly weigh-in is a dangerous thing for me. I get so influenced by the numbers, both positively and negatively. Looking at weight in numbers also reinforces the problem I have with externalising the whole issue and not feeling it from within. Somehow I have to try and get my heart to agree with my head that the number on the scale is irrelevant and it is what I look and feel like that counts.

But I am not there yet. And today is the day that I leave to go on holiday. The holiday that I was aiming for when I started this blog. The one that would mark the end of the “No Sugar, No Snacks, No Seconds, No Sauce”  rule that I had imposed on myself. If you have followed this blog, you will know that I have altered course since I set out. I ditched all those absolute prohibitions because I felt that they were traps that I was falling into. Traps that would, in the long term, result in my failure to achieve what I really wanted – a healthier body and a happier self-image.This feels like a good time to reflect a little and sum up what I have achieved so far and consider what I might do to keep myself going.

I have lost some weight — 4.3 kg (9.5lbs) in total. To my mind that is a miserably small amount and a figure that would normally do nothing to inspire me to continue. I need much more dramatic results to motivate me. Yet, that is exactly the sort of weight loss that I should be aiming for.

Even slower would probably be better. It shows how making small, but permanent changes to one’s diet will, over time, have the desired result. And I won’t suddenly start packing on the pounds once I am “finished”  because I never will be. They are forever changes and not based on a number deadline. Just as I have been a non-smoker for 14 years, I now need to see myself as someone who consumes almost no sugar, doesn’t drink much alcohol, only has snacks once in a while in social situations and almost always says “no” to second helpings.

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My future mealtimes? Not bloody likely!

Sadly, I was not that someone last weekend. I was at a party at Skinny Sister’s house. She is a marvellous cook, so I not only had seconds of the sumptuous lunch, but I also tucked into a generous helping of pudding. I found it almost too sickly sweet to finish. Not because it was particularly sugary, but because I am really not used to sugar anymore. Later though, when I got home, I started craving a sweet treat. I had awoken the sugar demon, and it wanted more. Fortunately, there was nothing tempting in the house and sugar demon has gone back to sleep for now. But it is worth remembering that, like nicotine, it is a craving that is always lurking, ready to pounce, and I feed it at my peril.

Giddy weekends aside, I am not doing too badly. I have seriously weakened the grasp that sugar has on me. I no longer routinely eat second helpings and I am drinking far less alcohol. I would prefer to cut this particular one even more, and I probably shall once I get back from my holiday. And as for the last of the four Esses – snacks – well, to be honest that has never been a major vice of mine. I added it in to make up the “Four Esses” rule. Still, it’s good to remember that snacks can be very tempting, especially when one is being so “good” about everything else. And I must also remember not to try to be “too good”, because I am in this for the long haul.

So, that’s the state of play. I fully intend to enjoy a fortnight of mild hedonism and will return to my “normal” life determined to carry on with this journey. Wish me luck.

 

Stats:

Total weight loss: Minus 4.3 kg (9.5lbs)

8: My Fabulous Body

Sometimes, when I’m sorting laundry, I put on one of those “bride chooses wedding dress” TV programmes as a sort of mildly entertaining background noise. Last week, the show was about “plus-size” brides. A few things were said that really got me thinking.

Firstly, one of the consultants said that a confident girl could wear any dress she liked. She just needed the attitude to pull it off. What a “big” woman, without that sort of confidence should wear to her wedding, I don’t know. They didn’t say. An overcoat maybe?

Secondly, in trying to make one bride feel “better” about her figure, a consultant pointed out that her breasts and hips were bigger than her waist and therefore she still had a beautiful “womanly” figure. Good grief. It seems even in fatty world, there is a “better” kind of fat to be. I am shaped just like a cake pop (completely round top half on relatively thinner stem). What am I supposed to think about my body?

cake-pop-Image by White77 from Pixabay
Image by White77 from Pixabay

I imagine the people making this programme were probably quite well-meaning. They were definitely trying to jump aboard the positive-body-image/non-fat-shaming train that is whistling across our TV screens at the moment. But their comments reveal how far away we are from anything like an acceptance of body shape and size not being the defining factor in one’s attractiveness as a person.

Frankly, I don’t buy that idea myself. I confess that I see very fat people as a hell of a lot less attractive than thinner ones. (I also find emaciated people unattractive and rather frightening, but that’s a whole other story.) I was listening to my daughter commenting on an advert that featured bigger models, and realised that she also wasn’t buying into the idea of fatties being gorgeous at all, regardless of what she was being shown. (“They’ve all got such enormous bums, Mum!”) Perhaps these ideas are too deeply entrenched to be easily changed.

I often hear people say “Look at the film stars of yesteryear. They were not terribly thin, but they were considered drop-dead gorgeous.” Have you ever had a good look at Marilyn Monroe’s figure? She was no fatty and her sexy hourglass shape is probably just as unrealistic for most of us to achieve as would be the figure of a contemporary super model.

marilyn-monroe-Image by skeeze from Pixabay
Image by skeeze from Pixabay

No, the idea that a human being must aspire to a certain pleasing body shape is not a new one. At least, nowadays we can use Instagram filters and photoshop instead of having to resort to having a rib removed or corseting ourselves so tightly that we can barely breathe.

Men and women alike must conform to society’s current perception of a beautiful body. It is no surprise then that the journey I claim to be on towards a healthier body has turned out to be all about doing something about the old cake pop bod. Come to think of it, post-menopause, my body is more like a rugby ball on a stick, as my fat gradually creeps down my thighs to my knees. You see. There I go again. Concentrating on my body’s flaws. Like most people, I could fill several pages on the awfulness of my body. How boring. And how downright wrong. Instead I should be telling you how bloody wonderful my body is.

I am so enormously grateful for all my body’s amazing abilities. I can walk, run, dance, swim, jump and climb. I can dig in my garden and hang out the washing and cook lots of delicious food. I can read and write and sew and draw. My eyes see, my ears hear. I am so lucky I can barely believe it. Last week, I developed a really nasty stye inside my eyelid. It was sore. It was UGLY. Despite my best efforts to treat it at home, by Friday I woke up with an eye socket that was so swollen it looked like I was turning into a Klingon. In a bit of a panic I went to the doctor who prescribed antibiotics. But before starting the course, I decided to wait just one more night. I had a feeling that my eye was just a tiny bit less painful than before. And I was right. My lovely, healthy, strong body had seen off the infection all by itself.

Please don’t think I am boasting or gloating. I am fully aware of how fortunate I am. But I really want to acknowledge how amazing my body is, even if you (and I) do not necessarily find it aesthetically pleasing. I hope we can all do this, whatever our bodies are like. Seek out the things we value and treasure them, and waste no time at all fretting about the things that don’t match up to some mad image of perfection that we have in our minds.

jump Image by Tasy Hong from Pixabay
Image by Tasy Hong from Pixabay